And here’s Day 2! This time we move on to Nevian and some discussions of his storylines and how his aceness fits into this. There is some very mild spoilers for City of Betrayal so if you like to keep very spoiler-free, maybe wait before you read? But I did keep it vague. 🙂
The first time I read the definition of asexuality, I thought of Nevian. I feel that says something about how obvious it was for me that this label applied to him. Part of the reason is that Nevian is in many ways what people project aceness means—sex repulsed, touch averse, had to deal with abuse, very focused and determined, and a complete nerd. As a community, we spend a lot of time saying that not all aces, often throwing the aces who belong in those categories under the bus. For a while I was caught into that, and I strongly considered changing part of these elements of Nevian because I felt I would be contributing to “ace clichés”. But y’know, as someone with mild touch averseness (especially in highly emotional states), that representation mattered to me. And aces who are all of these things exist, and they don’t deserve to be erased because they’re less palatable to mainstream.
I knew, also, that Nevian was a romantic ace, but that between his toxic environment, his sex-repulsion, and his inclination to spend every waking hour studying, he wouldn’t have explored or acted on it yet. I expected this to come up way late in the storylines (post second trilogy late), with another ace character I haven’t introduced yet. Nevian’s original storyarc for City of Spiresinvolved getting acclimated to a safe environment and having good people around. At that point, I hadn’t given much thoughts to what his interaction with Vellien would look like. The best part of writing is how no matter how much you plan and how well you know your characters, it always manages to surprise you.
I could have decided not to touch this storyline, but it held key elements I couldn’t pass up on: first, it set up a hurt/comfort relationship that involved a touch averse character having his boundaries respected. Second, it gave me a romance plotline that was born from utter, absolute trust and in which that trust had to be built first, long before the first hint of romance appear. Vellien is constantly reaffirming Nevian’s rights to his space and his mind, because Vellien is acutely aware of the space they take, of whether they are invading or imposing. It’s because Nevian is granted as much that he manages to let Vellien in (this is quite literal, seeing as Vellien spends a lot of time in Nevian’s memories helping him rebuild).
So writing Nevian … it is very different? We don’t spend nearly enough time considering how much we touch each others when we want to comfort them–how normalized ignoring those boundaries are. It was very nice to write a thing in which people work hard to respect Nevian’s. <3